Five questions answered on the Co-op's new rescue deal

The bid to plug a £1.5bn gap.

The Co-operative Bank has unveiled a new deal to fill a £1.5 bn gap in its finances. We answer five questions on the deal.

What does the deal consist of?
The deal consists of a "bail in" deal, whereby bond holders will be offered shares in the bank. It will also result in a stock market listing of the bank on the London Stock Exchange.

What does this mean essentially?

It ultimately means that the investors and the group make a joint contribution to the recapitalisation of the bank.

It also means that in the short term bond holders will lose out. However, eventually they will be able to exchange their bonds for shares gaining a minority stake in the bank, which will allow them to benefit from the eventual upside of the bank.

The bank said the number of shares and bonds offered in exchange for current holdings would be finalised in October, when its offer will be launched officially.

How many investors will actually be affected by the plan?

Seven thousand retail investors who own permanent-interest bearing shares (Pibs), which pay dividends of between 5.5% and 13% a year, will be affected by the plan.

If the bank is being listed on the stock exchange, does this mean the bank has changed its original ethos?

Chief executive Euan Sutherlandm, speaking to the BBC, said this was not the case.

"We have always been a PLC [public limited company] wholly owned by the Co-operative Group. The majority of the bank will still be owned by the Co-operative Group. There will be no change to our ethos or the way we run our bank," he told the BBC.

Is the Co-operative group also contributing to the rescue plan?

Yes. The Co-operative group will provide extra capital.

The bank also said it had also approved the plan in full with the banking industry’s new regulator the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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Leader: The divisions within Labour

Labour’s divisions have rendered it unfit for government at a moment of profound political change.

Labour is a party torn between its parliamentary and activist wings. Since Jeremy Corbyn, who this week appealed desperately for unity, was re-elected by a landslide last September, Labour has become the first opposition in 35 years to lose a ­by-election to the governing party and has continually trailed the Conservatives by a double-digit margin. Yet polling suggests that, were Mr Corbyn’s leadership challenged again, he would win by a comfortable margin. Meanwhile, many of the party’s most gifted and experienced MPs refuse to serve on the front bench. In 2015 Mr Corbyn made the leadership ballot only with the aid of political opponents such as Margaret Beckett and Frank Field. Of the 36 MPs who nominated him, just 15 went on to vote for him.

Having hugely underestimated the strength of the Labour left once, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) will not do so again. In the contest that will follow Mr Corbyn’s eventual departure, the centrists could lock out potential successors such as the shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey. Under Labour’s current rules, candidates require support from at least 15 per cent of the party’s MPs and MEPs.

This conundrum explains the attempt by Mr Corbyn’s supporters to reduce the threshold to 5 per cent. The “McDonnell amendment” (named after the shadow chancellor, who failed to make the ballot in 2007 and 2010) is being championed by the Bennite Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Jon Lansman of Momentum, who is interviewed by Tanya Gold on page 34. “For 20 years the left was denied a voice,” he tweeted to the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, on 19 March. “We will deny a voice to no one. We face big challenges, and we need our mass membership to win again.”

The passage of the amendment at this year’s Labour conference would aid Mr Lansman’s decades-long quest to bring the party under the full control of activists. MPs have already lost the third of the vote they held under the electoral college system. They face losing what little influence they retain.

No Labour leader has received less support from his MPs than Mr Corbyn. However, the amendment would enable the election of an even more unpopular figure. For this reason, it should be resolutely opposed. One should respect the motivation of the members and activists, yet Labour must remain a party capable of appealing to a majority of people, a party that is capable of winning elections.

Since it was founded, Labour has been an explicitly parliamentary party. As Clause One of its constitution states: “[The party’s] purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.” The absurdity of a leader opposed by as much as 95 per cent of his own MPs is incompatible with this mission. Those who do not enjoy the backing of their parliamentary colleagues will struggle to persuade the voters that they deserve their support.

Labour’s divisions have rendered it unfit for government at a moment of profound political change. Rather than formalising this split, the party needs to overcome it – or prepare for one of the greatest defeats in its history.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution